Arlington Wicked Local / March 12, 2020
Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, recently received the Endowment Award for Leadership in the Advancement of Mental Health at a Massachusetts General Hospital Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Case Conference.
The Endowment Award is given to individuals that display compassion toward and are champions for persons with a mental illness or substance use disorder. Friedman received the award for her work advocating for increased access to behavioral health services in the commonwealth to help address the mental health and opioid crisis as well as her efforts to divert people with mental illness or substance use disorder away from our criminal justice system and our emergency departments and into appropriate treatment and recovery settings.
“I’m honored to be recognized for supporting those with behavioral health conditions, who have historically been left behind in Massachusetts,” said Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Going forward, we must do everything we can to eliminate the barriers to care and the stigma surrounding these illnesses so that our residents can get the care they need and deserve. I look forward to continuing my partnership with MGH so that we can realize that goal.”
During her tenure in the Massachusetts Senate, Friedman has been a staunch advocate for greater access to behavioral health care. Most recently, she co-authored the Mental Health Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) Act, which passed in the Senate in February. The act begins to reform the state’s mental health care system by removing barriers to timely quality care, providing the state with more effective tools to enforce existing mental health parity laws, and investing in the mental health workforce pipeline.
Additionally, Friedman championed a comprehensive opioid treatment bill — signed into law in August of 2018 — that provides the state with an additional set of tools to address the opioid crisis and further establishes the commonwealth as a national leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The law increases access to medication-assisted treatment, explores tools to reduce harm and save lives, expands education and prevention efforts, and addresses the high rates of co-occurring conditions of substance use disorder and mental illness.
Friedman also led the effort in the Senate to establish a Middlesex County Restoration Center Commission. Since its inception in 2018, the commission, which Friedman serves on, has been working to create a restoration center in Middlesex County — a medical center aimed at diverting individuals in the throes of a behavioral health crisis away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment. This effort is part of Friedman’s ongoing goal of ending the criminalization of mental illness and substance use disorder.
Founded in 2000, the Endowment for the Advancement of Psychotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital supports professional training, research, and public education about the effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy. In dynamic psychotherapy the doctor-patient relationship is central to the work of dealing with life problems, developmental conﬂicts and vulnerabilities, as well as with the impact of biologically driven mental illness.